Faze’s Associate Editor Surya Bhattacharya went down to West Virginia to report on the finals of the Envirothon, a team competition for students interested in the environmental science field. The competition involves proving relevant physical and mental skills over the course of a week. Teams from all over North America are compete. Surya had actually been hoping we would send her to review a resort in the Caribbean.
Wednesday, July 28th, 2004
Buckhannon, West Virginia
Canada has fine representation at Canon’s Envirothon in West Virginia, in an environmental quiz competition being held this week where a team of five high school students from their respective school get to seek out answers in the wilds of the Appalachians instead of scratching their heads at an exam table in a dark room.
Teams from Ontario, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and PEI are not lost amongst the 44 other teams from the US. As a matter of fact, the Owen Sound team have a war cry and capes to intimidate anyone who cross their paths. They have a signature O they hold up over their heads, yelling ONTARIO every time a scientist calls out to check the various teams on site. I’ve heard it, and it is, if anything, pretty cool.
Meanwhile, the New Brunswick team are feeling the effects of being the only French speaking team on board. Ted Voisine, 18 from Citee des Jeunes A.M. Sourmany says, “Tell them back home we are the only French team here, today.” Add to that the stress of having to perform Land, Soil, Forestry, Aquatics, and Wildlife–each in increments of half an hour, throughout the day. This means tight discipline with team work and patient co-operation when the going gets tough. I look at some of the Land/Soil questions and the only word I can truly understand is, ‘macroinvertebrate’ and the only reason I understand the word is because I separate macro and invertebrate in my head. And even that is not good enough. Wayne Doyle, from Canon Canada explains, “Some of these were run by biology experts and they fear even they wouldn’t be able to answer some of these questions.” Tough does not even begin to define what these students are faced with, but then these are the best of the rest. Picked from earlier environmental quiz competitions held in each state and province, West Virginia currently houses some of the best minds in all of North America. Like the New Brunswick team pointed out-they beat every high school in New Brunswick to be here today. I ask them if their questions are tough, Ted shrugs, “Yeah,” and goes back to answering questions with Vicky Caron, 17. Tough maybe, but they know what they’re doing and they’re here to crack the code and win big.
But giving up a week of your summer vacation time to go trudging through breathtaking nature is hardly something you’ll see these students complaining about. And at the end of the day, after the tests are handed in, they play Frisbee; eat ice cream and watch movies in a giant open-air screen, sitting on the lawns of Wesleyan College. It’s like summer camp, with total scholarship money worth US$35,000 to be won at the end of the week. And that’s a sweet summer week to look ahead to.
UPDATE: Saturday, July 31st, 2004
Team from Ontario comes 7th overall out of 52 North American teams!
The week-long Envirothon wrapped up with a team of high-school students from Miami, Florida taking the top overall spot. Among the eight Canadian teams participating, the team from West Hill Secondary School in Owen Sound, Ontario came 7th overall (the best performance to date by a Canadian team). The Ontario team was also the proud recipient of the Envirothon Extra Mile Award, awarded to the team demonstrating the most spirit, cooperation, leadership, and friendship during the Canon Envirothon. Congratulations to Owen Sound and all participating teams!
SEEN AND OVERHEARD
Owen Sound team members hit the books…
“Hey, I’ve lost my Xena Warrior Princess bookmarker”
A team tests the soil…
“Mmm, yeah, Lori it does taste a bit peaty, well fertilized though”
The entrance to one of the competition areas.
“Larry, we’ve already lost 9 entire teams in the quicksand, what the hell are we going tell their parents?”
The French speaking New Brunswick team makes grande plans…
“Mais tous les regles sont en anglais, en plus, en anglais americain!”
The wildlife testing component…
“hmm, this one claims to be Davy Crockett’s hat”
Two members of the Owen Sound team from Ontario in the woods…
“When I stare at this pencil for a long time I start to feel really, really, sleepy…”
HERE ARE THE PHOTOS OF THE CANADIAN TEAMS
Prince Edward Island
Ontario (from Owen Sound)
Best ever showing by a Canadian team – 7th
And this may or may not have been the winning team…